Sex has been very much in the news lately: what it is, what it isn’t, what’s holy, what we’re designed for and what we aren’t. All this conversation is not lost on our kids, which means we have a wonderful teaching moment in front of us. They need to hear what we agree with and what we don’t agree with among all the messages out there, and they need positive messages about holy living.
If that sounds like an uncomfortable conversation to you, you’re in good company. Most parents dread it, maybe even avoid it. Consider this instead as an opportunity to spiritually shape your kids in a significant area of their development. Talk honestly, openly and often about who we are, how we’re made and what we’re designed for.
If you’re ready to help your kids understand sex from God’s point of view, share at least these six thoughts:
1) Good sex is holy.
We know this because God is holy, and God invented sex. Genesis teaches us that God cut male and female out of the same cloth, so we were created out of a kind of oneness. This is God’s design and when you know how something works, that’s empowering.
2) Good sex depends on a strong covenant.
Sex is designed to be practiced inside the covenant of marriage. The basic word in this whole holy design is covenant, which is basically a solemn agreement to either hang onto or step away from something. In the case of men, women and marriage, that covenant is a solemn agreement to hang onto each other for life, and sex is the sign of that covenant. The difference between covenant and no covenant is the difference between holy and human. Sex without covenant is like putting a BMW symbol on a Ford Pinto. You may have the symbol, but you don’t have the car (and the car you’ve got is likely to blow up).
3) Good sex is not shame-producing.
Sex was not designed to produce shame; it was designed to generate goodness. Over and over in the story of creation, we hear that God made things that are good. Men and women are called “very good.” Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Sex inside of a healthy covenant relationship is designed to generate joy, not shame. I want your kids to hear that abuse is never acceptable, and that good sex is not shame-producing.
4) Good sex is not love-producing (but is a great response to good love).
Sex does not make love. It is a response to love, and love is not an act or emotion. It is a commitment. We “make love” happen not by engaging in physical acts, but by practicing mutual submission (see Ephesians 5:21) and by practicing habits with each other like patience, kindness and humility. We practice it by not keeping score or letting our anger get the best of us, and then we celebrate our successes in moments of sweet intimacy.
5) Good sex is ultimately about life.
This is the Genesis purpose of sex. God made us to be creators, and he made sex enjoyable so we’d be drawn to it. That’s why natural curiosity is a good thing. We want kids to understand God’s plan for pursuing that curiosity in a positive light. Our job is help our kids make sense of those curiosities and channel them toward God’s good, joyful, healthy design.
6) Holy sex is good.
It is not something to be afraid of (goodness, no!), nor is it something we are powerless to control. Talk to your kids about the power they have over their own lives, about the nature of true love, about the rewards of self-discipline. Talk to them about how to begin life with a holy end in mind, and about making goals that set them up to live well. And above all, model it. Because your life is the greatest lesson your kid will ever receive.
There are also six things that are important to remember as you prepare for a conversation with your kids:
1) Be approachable.
Make sure your kids know you love them and are coming at this from a place of affection, not condemnation. Just a thought: My daughter taught me that I have a “parent voice” that isn’t very welcoming in casual conversation. I appreciated knowing that how I approach a conversation makes a difference in her openness to receiving it.
2) Be safe.
Make it clear (over and over) that you are the safest person to talk to. No matter what the question.
3) Be clear.
Be clear about what you consider to be right and wrong, and connect it to a biblical perspective. Don’t just give your opinion; back it up. If you don’t know what you believe about something, say so, then go find an answer you are comfortable with.
4) Be age-appropriate.
Don’t be afraid to ask this question often: “Anything we need to talk about?” Think in terms of “talks,” not “the talk.” At different ages, our kids need different information. Don’t give the Ph.D. version while your child is still in kindergarten.
5) Be proactive.
Don’t assume your kids don’t care. Kids are naturally inquisitive about how the world works, and they want to know what you think. Whether you sense it or not, you are the greatest influence in your child’s life.
6) Be positive.
Let your kids hear you say that God designed sex and made it special. Remember: God’s plan is not designed not to suck the fun out of life (far from it!) but so we will have the greatest opportunity for experiencing a joyful, rich and deep life that’s full of good love.
The current climate in our country gives us a great opportunity to talk with our kids about God’s design and their future. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you … (Deut. 31:6).